Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finding Your Wedding Dress Without the Stress

This article is inspired by a recent #WeddingMarket Twitter chat I was fortunate enough to be a part of, that featured Say Yes to the Dress star Randy Fenoli. Searching for your perfect wedding gown is one of the most exciting parts of planning your wedding. You've seen so many pictures of beautiful brides and now it's your turn to find the "one" and truly become a princess for the day! But finding a dress can be overwhelming. Many brides visit multiple bridal shops, sift through tons of wedding gowns, and try on more than a dozen before they narrow it down to the final one. Seeing so much white can even cloud your vision of what kind of dress you came in looking for in the first place. You don't want the stress of finding the right dress to bog you down, because trying on dresses is fun! So here are some tips, to help make your wedding gown shopping less stressful and more enjoyable.
For starters, know where you want to go. Select several bridal salons and schedule visiting them on a given date. Make sure to get an appointment, so the bridal sales staff there can set aside time for you. Without an appointment, you might be on your own, and with so much to look through, you'll lose valuable time and may not get to see what might actually be a great fit for you.  Next, know what you want to wear. If there is a dress style you love and have always dreamed of wearing, gather images to take with you on your shopping trip. Show the sales staff what you're looking for, including cut, fabric, and design, so they can help you focus on finding a gown you would like.  Know how much you can afford to spend on your dress too. Sticking to your price range will narrow down what you need to try on and will reduce your financial stress.
It's also important that you are comfortable in your own skin or you won't be happy with whatever you purchase. Learn to love yourself, your shape, your size, or start making some changes now to help you feel better about yourself. All brides are beautiful. Look around and notice real women of all shapes and sizes who have been brides. This can help you put your feelings into perspective and know that you too will look gorgeous on your wedding day. Beginning a daily, "I am a beautiful bride" affirmation will also help remind you of this if you start to doubt yourself or your looks. Finally, as Mr. Randy Feloni says "buy a dress that makes you feel the most beautiful. You'll wear it more confidently." Definitely take those words with you when dress shopping!
For more on wedding dress shopping and what you'll want to take with you to the bridal boutique, here's a nice article by Chelsea Underwood, owner of Pretty in Pink Events, as featured on The Bridal Hotlist:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Guest Blogger- Jay Congdon: Creating a Memorable Wedding Reception with Your Music

Our guest blogger today is Jay Congdon, President of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company since 1965.
There are several ways you can personalize your wedding reception entertainment to your individual tastes, and provide some memorable moments for your guests. Here are just a few for your consideration.

  • Love Songs to the Bride and Groom Typically, your reception guests will clink their glasses together, to get the two of you to kiss. Instead, some couples ask their DJ to make an announcement that anyone who wants the bride and groom to kiss, must sing them a line or two from a song with the word "love" in it. The guest's entire table rises together and sings. Sometimes, they come up with some very creative songs that give everyone a good laugh.
  • Choreograph Your First Dance If you have the time and the inclination, you may wish to take ballroom dancing lessons together, and dazzle your guests with a rehearsed performance. Be sure the bridal gown is cut to accommodate such a dance. Start your lessons about 3 months before your wedding. Keep the song to 3 minutes or less if you can. Be sure your DJ has the right version of the song; and tell him in advance how you'll alert him that it's time to start the song. His cue can be something as simple as a nod of your head.
  • Dollar Dance The bride and groom begin a slow dance together, then the guests are invited to cut in and dance briefly with either the bride or groom, for a dollar (though a smart DJ will remind the guests that there's nothing wrong with 10's or 20's). Sometimes it takes two or three songs for everyone to get a chance to dance with the bride or groom. People can either pin their money to the bride's gown if someone provides straight pins, or the Best Man and Maid of Honor can collect the money. It's a nice way to give the newlyweds a little slush fund as they head off for their honeymoon.
  • Anniversary Dance All married couples are invited to join the bride and groom on the dance floor. A slow song starts. After a few seconds, the DJ asks all couples who've been married less than 5 years to leave the dance floor. A few seconds later, all couples married 10 years or less must leave. Eventually, the couple married the longest remains alone on the dance floor, and a big cheer goes up as the DJ tells the newlyweds, "Here are your role models."
  • "Soul Train" Two parallel lines of dancers form at opposite sides of the dance floor, and couples take turns dancing down the middle, just as they did on "Soul Train." It's a great way to get everyone involved in the dancing.
  • Conga Line
    The bride and groom lead the way, and the line forms behind them, with each person putting his/her hands on the waist of the person in front of him/her. Popular songs for a Conga line include "Hot Hot Hot," "Party Train," "C'mon & Ride It," and of course, "Conga." Always a nice photo op.
  • Line Dances
    People love dances that they know. And there are plenty of line dances that we've all seen a million times -- "Electric Slide," "Cha Cha Slide," "Macarena," "YMCA," "Chicken Dance," "Cupid Shuffle," "Gangnam Style" and so forth. Even if you absolutely hate every one of them, please don't spoil it for your guests. Even if they don't normally like to dance, they'll be on the dance floor for the line dances, and their inhibitions and spirits will be lifted. Remember, your reception is a party you throw for your friends. Let them have a good time, too. You can always tell your DJ not to play any line dances unless someone requests them. But putting them off-limits denies your guests some wonderful bonding moments.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Bride's Bill of Rights

I've decided that as brides, you need a bill of rights so you can feel good about yourself and plan your wedding successfully. To do both, you have to be confident within and with your decisions. Sometimes it also means protecting yourself from outside pressures or inner anxiety. Having a guideline to refer back to can help you set good boundaries. Here are some important ones I came up with, but please feel free to add your own too. Let me know what you else should be on this list and I'll revise it with the additions and hopefully get it printed up as a keepsake and reminder for brides!  But for now, go ahead and print this one off and keep it somewhere you can read daily.
Bride's Bill of Rights
  • I have the right to be a happy bride.
  • I have the right to ask for help.
  • I have the right to say "no" if I'm feeling overwhelmed.
  • I have the right to make time to care for myself.
  • I have the right to work with professionals I like and feel comfortable with.
  • I have the right to share my wedding day details, hopes, and dreams only with those who support me.
  • I have the right to terminate a working relationship if it's not a good fit.
  • I have the right to make decisions without feeling guilty or pressured.
  • I have the right to stop worrying about things I cannot control.
  • I have the right to remove myself from family or friendship drama.
  • I have the right to laugh, cry, and express other emotions I might be feeling.
  • I have the right to set aside non-wedding related days.
  • I have the right to have a life outside of wedding planning.
  • I have the right to follow my own trends and make my wedding uniquely mine.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Politics and Relationships

Monday Musings:How does politics fit into your relationship? Are you conservative, moderate, or liberal? Do you and your partner share the same political views? Does it matter to you? Some individuals have strong political beliefs, while others aren't as passionate. How you feel about these things can determine how you vote, what causes you might contribute to, and even where you decide to live or what people you associate with. Understand each of your views and know how it fits in your relationship. You may decide when and where having political conversations are acceptable, for instance. Maybe you prefer not to talk politics during social gatherings or with friends who have different viewpoints, because sometimes what begins as an innocent conversation can turn into a heated argument. Regardless of your ideas or affiliation, discussing your political views ahead of time will help you understand how big a role it will play in your new life together and what other decisions it might affect.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meditation 101

Personal reflection, concentrated breathing, finding inner awareness and peace of mind. However you define it, meditation is a practice that allows you to quiet your mind and learn to be still amid the bustling world around you. The neat thing about it, is that it's free and open to anybody willing to try. All it takes is time and practice, and the payoff is hugely rewarding.
Meditation and guided imagery, which essentially is going on a meditative journey while visualizing various images, is known to have many positive effects. Practicing meditation and guided imagery can help you reduce anxiety and stress, improve your mood, inspire and motivate you, lower your blood pressure, reduce headaches, improve work performance, and enhance your creativity. These are just a handful of researched benefits. There are numerous other physical, emotional, and spiritual advantages to meditation.
Meditation involves finding a quite space free of distractions where you can concentrate on your breathing and letting go of all your thoughts. It may include focusing on the different muscle groups in your body and teaching you how to relax them so your body feels completely relaxed. It can include instructions to visualize yourself at a certain place or to feel a positive emotion, all with the intention of helping you feel calmer and more at ease. Once the meditation is over, you tend to feel lighter physically and emotionally. But don't be too upset, if it doesn't do much for you the first time around. Like any activity, it takes practice and with time, will surely inspire you.
You can practice meditation anytime, although many people find it helpful to set aside time first thing in the morning or before going to sleep at night. Having quiet time before bed is particularly useful in helping you wind down from the days activities. It's also likely to help you sleep better.  With all these benefits, why not get started today?!

Monday, October 14, 2013

With a Little Help from your Friends

Monday Musings:Are you and your fiance planning on asking friends to take on professional roles at your wedding? Trying to cut wedding costs seems to be at the top of most engaged couples priorities. One way many couples do this, is by enlisting help from friends and family. And while that could be a good way to reduce your overall expenses, you need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of having those closest to you getting involved in the details. If your best friend happens to be a photographer and offers to shoot your wedding day photos for free, that's great! Or is it? Sure, she is a professional, but keep in mind she is also your friend. Since you have a relationship outside of business, things can become a bit more complicated if you're unhappy with her work or style. And since there is no contract or payment, you don't have any guarantees of when you might get you photos back or what exactly is included. You can also run the risk of feeling you "owe her one" afterwards. Remember too, that she is your best friend. Putting her to work, means she can't enjoy the fun during your wedding day festivities. Still, sometimes it can be a good idea, especially if you're short on funds or your friend wants to do something as a gift for you. You can always have her shoot the family and couple photos and have someone else photograph the festivities, so she can enjoy them with you. The key point is to put extra thought into wedding day decisions and never jump into things too quickly, especially when they sound so good.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bridal Support

As with many endeavors, you will find that there are people within your circle who will be supportive of your wedding day dreams and others who are less than enthusiastic with your vision. Your job is to keep those who are supportive closer to you than those who are not, during this happy time in your life. Having people who are not supportive around you can make you feel more stressed out, unhappy, or otherwise drained of positive energy.
How do you know who is on Team Bride and who isn't? Most of the time it's quite easy. It's the people who respond, "why would you want to have your wedding there" or "we wouldn't do it like that," when you tell them your wedding day ideas. It may even be a look or a sense of doubt that they give you. It could be the same individuals who have said or done similar things in the past too.
Unfortunately, sometimes it are those individuals closest to you who can't seem to see things your way. This can make your life even more challenging. By all means, don't shut important people out of your life as you plan your wedding, but do know where to draw the line when it comes to your happiness. If they aren't directly involved in your wedding (i.e., in the wedding party, paying for parts of it, etc.), then share your details sparingly. And if they are involved, share  the information they need to know. If Aunt Jane wants to know why you do not want to talk more about your wedding details, try giving her the honest truth. Tell her that you tried to open up to her about your wedding day vision, but that you didn't feel very supported. Since this is an exciting time in your life, you've decided only to share wedding news with those who can understand and appreciate your decisions. It may sound a bit harsh, but sometimes people need to know how you feel or may simply be unaware of their statements or behavior. This may not work in all cases and also depends on your relationship with the other person. So you have to judge wisely who has to be told what when.

Monday, October 7, 2013

To Have and to Hold

Monday Musings: How do you and your partner feel about public displays of affection? Hand holding, hugs, kisses, and other physical contact. These are all ways you share your emotional and physical connection with your fiance. How comfortable are you with being physical in front of people you know or don't know? Have you shared with each other what works and what you prefer to keep behind closed doors? Some couples are fine with public displays of affection, while others aren't. Knowing what you are okay with and where will help you both express yourselves better in a manner that's good for each of you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bumps in the Road

You're engaged and everything appears swell, but suddenly you and your fiance are not getting along as before. It's a feeling no bride likes to have and an experience no bride wants to go through. Unfortunately, it does happen on occasion. If your engagement has become less than simpatico, sit down with one another and have a talk. What's going on with each of you? Is the busyness of wedding planning getting you? Do you spend less time with each other as a couple? Are these feelings new or did you have some issues before your engagement? Answering some of these questions can help you see where problems may stem from. Once you have an idea of what the real issues are, see if you can work on it now. If life has become too hectic with all the wedding planning, make sure you schedule date nights for the two of you outside of wedding planning. If wedding costs are creating tension, find ways to lower your budget, for the sake of your relationship.
If the problem lies outside of wedding planning, for example, it's communication issues, seek outside help. Professional help can save your relationship if you're both willing to work on it together. Remember that relationships are a two way street. That means both of you must be willing to get help to potentially resolve whatever is interfering with your happiness. Having that first conversation early on is the best way to get a clearer picture and to move forward from there.